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Sandy Journal

Sandy Arts Guild named Best of State

Jul 07, 2023 09:07AM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart

The Sandy Arts Guild was named Best Community Theater for 2023 by the Best of State Awards. (Photo courtesy Best of State)

For the first time since 2018, the Sandy Arts Guild has been named Best Community Theater by the Best of State Awards. A small group of staff accepted the award at a gala on May 24, but Steve George, stage manager and technical director, says the award belongs to everyone involved: the staff and board, production teams, actors, volunteers and supporters.

“It’s everybody around us,” agrees Karla Marsden, producer for the Guild. “They’re the ones with the talent. They’re the ones with the ability to do what they do, and we’re just trying to keep them organized.”

With the help of around 50 volunteers, the guild stages several productions each year at the Theater at Mount Jordan Middle School. Sandy residents can look forward to a comedy in the winter and musicals in the summer and fall, as well as a youth musical in the spring. 

The Sandy Arts Guild also operates Youth Showcase, a summer theater camp in June for kids and teens ages 10-18. Participants audition for roles and perform musical numbers for an audience at the end of each two-week session. They learn a variety of skills including makeup, hair, costumes and set design and play theater games. Last year the guild began offering an after-school program that teaches vocal skills to elementary-age children.

“Summer camp is my favorite thing we do all year,” George said. “It just changes so many lives.”

The passion and love for theater is part of what makes Sandy Arts Guild productions so special.

“With community theater, people are doing it for no other reason than the love of doing it,” George said. “And having a talent and sharing it. The quality of people we get is absolutely incredible and they just keep coming back.”

Some members of the production team are compensated, including directors, choreographers, assistant stage manager and leads for costumes, makeup and scenery. Volunteers donate thousands of hours of service each year building and painting the sets, sewing costumes, ushering, and serving as stage crew. The direct costs of Arts Guild productions are funded by a combination of fundraising, ticket sales and grant revenue, with salaries being paid through the city budget’s general fund. 

“The production members we have are so skilled,” George said. “But they’re not paid anywhere what they’re worth. What they get might cover gas money. But they give it their all.”

Best of State is a recognition and awards program that has been honoring individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah since 2003.

“What makes (this award) special is that a little guy can win the same as the big guy,” said Mark Layton, founder and president of Best of State. 

The nominees are judged on a 100-point scale with half of the points based on the excellence of the product or performance. Thirty points reflect creativity and how the nominee differentiates itself from the competition, and the remaining points are based on what they do to improve the quality of life in their community, according to Layton. 

“There is no campaigning,” Layton said. “The judges submit their scores independently of each other. You see people proudly use the Best of State medallion because they recognize it as an award that’s clean.” 

The award comes just months after George was given the Sandy Cultural Award by the One Sandy Awards for his tireless dedication for staging quality productions. 

The guild is currently working on “The Music Man,” which will run Aug. 4-19 with select dates every Friday, Saturday and Monday. Tickets can be purchased online at

This production is special in that several families are involved, where one or more parent as well as children are part of the cast.

“It’s an opportunity for them to be together as a family and do a show,” George said.

Anyone interested in volunteering for future productions is invited to fill out the online form found here:

“It really feels like a family,” George said. “One of the biggest compliments that I ever got was from one of our ladies who does our props, and she said the thing that’s special about the Sandy Arts Guild is that they feel appreciated—and that just tells us we’re doing our job.” λ